NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS) 20100021408: Toward Right-Fidelity Rotorcraft Conceptual Design
Publication date 2010-01-04
Topics NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS), DESIGN ANALYSIS, ROTARY WING AIRCRAFT, TECHNOLOGY ASSESSMENT, VERTICAL TAKEOFF AIRCRAFT, COMPUTATIONAL FLUID DYNAMICS, AERODYNAMICS, COMPUTER PROGRAMS, XV-15 AIRCRAFT, COMPUTER AIDED DESIGN, SYSTEMS ENGINEERING, THREE DIMENSIONAL MODELS, COSTS, GRID GENERATION (MATHEMATICS), Sinsay, Jeffrey D., Johnson, Wayne,
The aviation Advanced Design Office (ADO) of the US Army Aeroflightdynamics Directorate (AMRDEC) performs conceptual design of advanced Vertical Takeoff and Landing (VTOL) concepts in support of the Army's development and acquisition of new aviation systems. In particular, ADO engages in system synthesis to assess the impact of new technologies and their application to satisfy emerging warfighter needs and requirements. Fundamental to ADO being successful in accomplishing its role; is the ability to evaluate a wide array of proposed air vehicle concepts, and independently synthesize new concepts to inform Army and DoD decision makers about the tradespace in which decisions will be made (Figure 1). ADO utilizes a conceptual design (CD) process in the execution of its role. Benefiting from colocation with NASA rotorcraft researchers at the Ames Research Center, ADO and NASA have engaged in a survey of the current rotorcraft PD practices and begun the process of improving those capabilities to enable effective design and development of the next generation of VTOL systems. A unique aspect of CD in ADO is the fact that actual designs developed in-house are not intended to move forward in the development process. Rather, they are used as reference points in discussions about requirements development and technology impact. The ultimate products of ADO CD efforts are technology impact assessments and specifications which guide industry design activity. The fact that both the requirement and design are variables in the tradespace adds to the complexity of the CD process. A frequent need is ability to assess the relative "cost" of variations in requirement for a diverse set of VTOL configurations. Each of these configurations may have fundamentally different response characteristics to this requirement variation, and such insight into how different requirements drive different designs is a critical insight ADO attempts to provide decision makers. The processes and tools utilized are driven by the timeline in which questions must be answered. This can range from quick "back-of-the-envelope" assessments of a configuration made in an afternoon, to more detailed tradespace explorations that can take upwards of a year to complete. A variety of spreadsheet based tools and conceptual design codes are currently in use. The in-house developed conceptual sizing code RC (Rotorcraft) has been the preferred tool of choice for CD activity for a number of years. Figure 2 illustrates the long standing coupling between RC and solid modeling tools for layout, as well as a number of ad-hoc interfaces with external analyses. RC contains a sizing routine that is built around the use of momentum theory for rotors, classic finite wing theory, a referred parameter engine model, and semi-emperical weight estimation techniques. These methods lend themselves to rapid solutions, measured in seconds and minutes. The successful use of RC, however requires careful consideration of model input parameters and judicious comparison with existing aircraft to avoid unjustified extrapolation of results. RC is in fact a legacy of a series of codes whose development started in the early 1970s, and is best suited to the study of conventional helicopters and XV-15 style tiltrotors. Other concepts have been analyzed with RC, but typically it became necessary to modify the source code and methods for each unique configuration. Recent activity has lead to the development of a new code, NASA Design and Analysis of Rotorcraft (NDARC). NDARC uses a similar level of analytical fidelity as RC, but is built on a new framework intended to improve modularity and ability to rapidly model a wider array of concepts. Critical to achieving this capability is the decomposition of the aircraft system into a series of fundamental components which can then be assembled to form a wide-array of configurations. The paper will provide an overview of NDARC and its capabilities.
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